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2021 Fantasy Football Pick One: D.K. Metcalf, Calvin Ridley or A.J. Brown

Which wide receiver would you rather draft in the middle of the second round?

Fantasy football drafts are all about maximizing value at each spot, whether that means reaching for your guy or picking that stud who looks to be falling for no obvious reason. In this new series, I’ve taken a look at groups of three players with similar current ADPs and have selected the one I’d be picking if it was me on the clock.

Which wide receiver are you picking at the if you’re picking in the middle of second round: D.K. Metcalf (2.07), Calvin Ridley (2.08) or A.J. Brown (2.08)?

I’m drafting: Calvin Ridley

When it comes to receivers—if you’ve read my piece about what it takes to win at fantasy football, then you’ll already know this—I’m looking at the second round before I take my first pass catcher. With the likes of Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs and DeAndre Hopkins currently going off the board in the first 16 picks, that means we’re looking at three young and super talented receivers to choose from to be our WR1.

I’m picking Calvin Ridley first as his upside is off the charts heading into 2021. His numbers have got better in each of his first three years. He finished as the WR5 in 2020 in just 13 games, putting up over 1,300 yards and 9 touchdowns. And he did all that on a team where he had Julio Jones across from him as the No. 1 option in the passing offense to start the year. Ridley then more than picked up the slack as Jones missed six games with a nagging hamstring strain, finishing the year as a bona-fide WR1 in his own right, averaging 11 targets per game and 17.3 fantasy points per game in the final 6 games of last year.

With Julio traded to the Titans, Ridley should see another uptick in targets in what will continue to be a prolific passing offense, and he could push past the 150 target mark in 2021 and be a top-5 receiver again in 2021. I would have no issue taking Ridley early in the second round and be the leader my fantasy receiving corps.

Related: 2021 Fantasy Fallout of Julio Jones to the Titans

D.K. Metcalf is my No. 2 in this group of young receivers as he stepped up in year two to put up very similar numbers to Ridley in 2020 (120 targets, 1282 yards, 10 touchdowns), albeit they came at 2.4 points per game fewer as Metcalf played in every game for the Seahawks. My main concern for Metcalf’s 2021 production comes from the type of offense that the Seahawks intend to run this year. The second half of the 2020 season saw them reduce their passing rate by 6%—from 61% to 55%. If the intimations from Pete Carroll that he wants to be see that trend continue into 2021 are correct, then Metcalf’s production, along with both Tyler Lockett and Russell Wilson, will all suffer.

A.J. Brown has seen his 2021 fantasy potential take quite the hit with the Titans trading for Julio Jones. His arrow was pointing way up heading into the new season. A healthy Julio will inevitably mean that Brown’s potential for a target increase will be dampened somewhat. This doesn’t mean Brown can’t be a borderline WR1 (I currently have him as my WR11), its just his ceiling in what has been a low volume offense (the Titans threw the third least passes in 2020) has been lowered with the Jones trade.

Who would you pick if you were on the clock with Metcalf, Ridley or Brown?